PROFESSOR Okorafo stacked his notes, tucked them in a file folder and placed it on the shelf somewhere in his office when he heard the knock.
“Come on in…”
“Good morning Sir,”
I greeted as I walked into the office filled with law books, law journals, articles and some Newspapers and a laptop sitting proudly on the well-polished glossy wooden table.
“Did you have a question to ask earlier this morning, Nwanneka?” he said as he pulled out his phones from his suit jacket and sat down on the sofa opposite his working desk.
“No sir…I mean not really, but yes I do have a question to ask now.”
“What exactly then is the matter?” Professor Okorafo asked as he looked at me with those dark, shrewd eyes of his
“Well, sir,” I started, ” I submitted my project proposal to you last week and I received it yesterday but there was no single correction or approval or criticism from you, just a B.” I finished shaking my head as I held out my file to the Professor.
“Yes, I saw this,” he said as he collected the file from me “but there’s no need for any corrections or whatsoever remarks. What you wrote was well presented and it showed your excellent effort and hard-work. What exactly indeed is your problem?” he asked quietly as he looked at me concentrically
“Err…I just thought I would have felt better if I had gotten an A. Do I need to do some extra work to move from B to an A?” I asked shifting my weight from one foot to the other
“Nwanneka, you do know that you don’t question the grades you get unless you’d like to have an extra year which I strongly doubt”
“Yes, sir I’m aware. I just wante…”
“But then…” he started to cut me short, “I sincerely admire your courage and for that reason I’ll tell you this, you have the makings of an excellent project work from this proposal,” he said as he perused through the file “however, you lacked just one major ingredient.”
How could that be? A major ingredient? What does that even mean in this context? Kenechukwu and I had both gone over the proposal paper before I had turned it in. I made sure I had covered everything and indeed I had. “Sir?”
“The human element. You missed out the human element.”
I stifled my anger at Prof. Okorafo’s sardonic tone. I then forced myself to speak more calmly.
“How would you suggest I do that, sir? I really don’t understand.”I was more confused than when I had first come into his office.
How I badly wanted an A in this project; I wasn’t going to accept less. I had maintained a 4.0GPA for four years now, I wasn’t about to let some project break that perfect record.
“A case study would help.”
I flushed with anger. Obviously the professor hadn’t read my paper carefully enough.
“I incorporated case studies sir. Here, on Chapter Two.” I had backed up everything I had proposed with case studies. What was the professor talking about?
“Yes I know. Collected from various volumes. I read your documentations and your endnotes. What you lack in your proposal is personal contact and experience. You were in my Criminology class of course, and you remember I taught you how to conduct empirical research and collect data and statistics report for proper documentation? What is empirical research?”
“Sir, well erm…it basically means an experience of the subject of research conducted by the researcher.” I replied not exactly trying to roll my eyes but still trying to roll some part (I didn’t want him to see me rolling my eyes at him, I’d be dammed!)
“Correct! So basically, you have to conduct a research on your project” he said as he looked quizzically at me, “have a personal experience of what exactly happens in Nigerian Criminal justice system as regards your topic and then recommend based on what you have experienced.”
“So Sir, it basically means that I’m required specifically to meet with criminal investigators, Patrol police officers available at a crime scene and some other people relevant to my project topic in Nigeria or via Email?” I couldn’t keep the edge of disdain from creeping into my voice.
How long would it take to develop a proper questionnaire? How many people would I have to find to guarantee an answer suitable enough? Where would I start finding the Emails of some impossible Nigerian Forensic Consultants/Analyst? Nigerians that hardly have any valid information to give unless you pay money! Even their purported websites are outdated and doesn’t even answer your desired questions neither does it provide their Emails, even if it does, how I’m I certain that it is working? Wasn’t that a thesis work? I mean, I wasn’t yet in graduate school now, haba!
“Not necessarily via Email, and you don’t have to meet up with so many people. Just have a place for a case study. Let’s say Enugu or probably anywhere you feel comfortable with. Then, maybe you could also get two or three Email correspondences. Where do you have in mind?”
“Lagos sir. I believe their laws are up to date and I could find one or two lawyers that could help me find Forensic Analysts but would one area be enough to give a proper recommendation, sir?”
“Just one, you won’t have time for more. Add your personal experience and what really goes on in Nigeria as regards the practice of forensic evidence and you’ll earn your mark. That’s if you do a good job at it by the way!” Professor Okorafo finished with a smile.
“By the way” he added, “let’s change your topic from the ‘Vital role of Forensic evidence in Nigerian criminal justice system; A Recommendation‘ to ‘The role of Forensic Evidence in Nigeria CJS; A Critical analysis of …’, you add your area of case study.”
“Thank you sir.” I said as I ended the discussion with a forced smile
“Ok.” he said as he stood up to move to his table
“Bye Sir!” I quietly said as I moved towards the door and walked out of the office into the now almost crowded hallway filled with tons of neatly dressed students in white and black clamoring to register their courses manually with their course supervisors.
I looked at the new students all well dressed and new to the University system, this was just the beginning of le hustle. Welcome to the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Faculty of law who is no respecter of persons; they still had four more years to go. I was almost done with my struggle to gain an LL.B even though the journey was tough, the road was already a bit clear, just a few traffic jam along the way. I half-smiled at the thought of almost being a Graduate as I walked on, away from the faculty noise and joining the crowd of students’ heading wherever.
Swinging the leather handle of my Box-bag across my shoulders and holding my file on my right hand, I placed my other free hand into my black skirt pocket and climbed down the stairs with an air of pride and disgust.
“Oga dinma!” I muttered under my breath.